March 23, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – In a match featuring four three-set singles contests, the University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team came through in the clutch for a 5-2 victory over #48 Virginia Tech (10-4, 2-1) Sunday afternoon in the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The win places the defending BIG EAST Conference champion Irish (6-9, 1-0) atop the league standings heading into next Sunday’s match at #22 Miami, a rematch of each of the last seven conference championships. The Irish, ranked 58th, won the doubles point and four of six singles tilts, including a trio in three sets, to grab the victory in Virginia Tech’s first-ever trip to Notre Dame.
“It is a big relief to finally beat a respected team after having so many close 4-3 losses,” said Irish head coach Bob Bayliss. “I have very high regard for Virginia Tech because beating Miami 5-2 on the road, as they did a few weeks ago, means you have a pretty potent lineup.”
With the match tied 2-2 and each of the remaining matches in third sets, Notre Dame got victories from three players who had previously struggled in similar situations this season. Freshman Patrick Buchanan (Fullerton, Calif./Servite H.S.) delivered the final blow, a 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over Michael Kurz at No. 5 to clinch the victory. Buchanan, who rallied from a 5-4 deficit in the second set, converted vs. Virginia Tech after dropping the decisive match vs. Northwestern, one decided in a third-set tiebreaker with the team score knotted at 3-3. Buchanan had lost each of his last four three-set decisions heading into Sunday.
“I’m very happy for Patrick Buchanan to be the clinching match because he’s been out there before [in that position] and it’s been hard on him losing in that situation as a freshman,” said Bayliss.
Senior Brian Farrell (Lilburn, Ga./St. Pius X H.S.) came through with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 upset of #64 Saber Kadiri at No. 3 to put the Irish within a point of victory. The win was the first of Farrell’s career over a ranked player. This was the third time this season the Irish tri-captain had been in a similar situation, having lost in three sets vs. Indiana with the match tied, 3-3, and having dropped a three-set decision to Duke with the Irish trailing 3-2.
“For Brian Farrell to beat Saber Kadiri the way he did speaks volumes,” said Bayliss. “Saber beat Miami’s Todd Widom, who is one of the best players in college tennis, two weeks ago in Miami.”
Farrell, who was 0-2 in his only two previous career matches at No. 3, snapped a five-match losing streak in three-set matches, winning in the maximum number of frames for the first time in nearly two years, to the day. Farrell’s previous three-set triumph was on Feb. 24, 2001 against Northwestern’s Ryan Edlefsen.
After the outcome was determined, junior Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) completed a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Francis Huot at No.1. The Hokie senior came into the match with a 22-4 record, including 9-2 in dual matches. Sunday was the fourth time this season Haddock was on the court with the match on the line. The Irish tri-captain lost to Florida State with the match tied 3-3 before winning a third-set tiebreaker vs. Michigan State in the final match on-court and losing a three-setter against Northwestern with the Irish leading 3-2.
The only straight-set victor for Notre Dame in singles was sophomore Brent D’Amico (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Stephen’s Episcopal School), who played No. 2 for just the second time in his career, beating Andreas Laulund 6-3, 6-4. D’Amico is 9-5 in dual matches this fall. Laulund entered the match wit h a 23-5 record this season, including a six-match winning streak and an 11-2 record in dual matches.
For the second day in a row, Notre Dame was without the services of its No. 2 singles/No. 1 doubles player Matthew Scott (Oakton, Va./International School of Paris), who became ill after the doubles portion of Saturday’s match vs. Minnesota.
The Irish grabbed a 1-0 lead with wins at the bottom two doubles positions. The deciding match was at No. 2, where Farrell and Haddock delivered an 8-6 win over Angel Diankov and Grant Reynolds to give Notre Dame the doubles point. Farrell and Haddock won their sixth straight match, improving to 7-3 this season.
After Laulund and Stephane Rod won 8-2 at No. 1 for Virginia Tech in the first match completed, juniors Ben Hatten (Potomac, Md./Winston Churchill H.S.) and Nicolas Lopez-Acevedo (Guaynabo, P.R./Colegio Marista), playing together for the first time in more than a month, grabbed an 8-5 victory at No. 3. Hatten and Lopez-Acevedo, 4-2 this season, dealt Huot and Kurz just their third loss in 14 dual matches this spring. Notre Dame had dropped the bottom doubles match in six of the previous eight contests, with one being abandoned, prior to Sunday.
Trailing 2-0, Virginia Tech got a pair of singles wins to even the match. Rod defeated Lopez-Acevedo 6-2, 7-6 (7-2) at No. 4 before Diankov downed Notre Dame sophomore Jimmy Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 at No. 6. Bass was playing in his second career dual match.
The Irish beat Virginia Tech for the first time in school history, in the second meeting between the teams and the first since 1977.
Notre Dame, which plays just two regular-season matches against BIG EAST teams, moved into first place in the conference standings, alongside Rutgers and Villanova (both also 1-0). The Hokies, who finished third in the conference tournament a year ago, were 2-0 this season in BIG EAST action, including a 5-2 win at ’02 league runner-up Miami. Head-to-head results of teams, as well as national rankings, are the main factors in determining the participants and seeding of the six qualifiers in the BIG EAST Championship, scheduled for April 25-27 in Coral Gables, Fla.
#58 Notre Dame 5, #48 Virginia Tech 2
No. 1: Luis Haddock (ND) d. Francis Huot (VT) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
No. 2: Brent D’Amico (ND) d. Andreas Laulund (VT) 6-3, 6-4
No. 3: Brian Farrell (ND) d. #64 Saber Kadiri (VT) 6-2, 3-6, 6-4
No. 4: Stephane Rod (VT) d. Nicolas Lopez-Acevedo (ND) 6-2, 7-6 (7-2)
No. 5: *Patrick Buchanan (ND) d. Michael Kurz (VT) 4-6, 7-5, 6-2
No. 6: Angel Diankov (VT) d. Jimmy Bass (ND) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
Order of Finish: 2, 4, 6, 3, 5*, 1
No. 1: Laulund/Rod (VT) d. D’Amico/Paul McNaughton (ND) 8-2
No. 2: *Farrell/Haddock (ND) d. Diankov/Grant Reynolds (VT) 8-6
No. 3: Ben Hatten/Lopez-Acevedo (ND) d. Huot/Kurz (VT) 8-5
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2*